How to Win a Property Tax Appeal

how to succesfully lower property taxIf you are a Massachusetts property owner and believe you are paying more than your fair share of property taxes you only have a limited amount of time to appeal, depending on your city or town.  Typically the appeal deadline is prior to the date of the first annual payment, although you still have to make the first payment even if you are disputing the amount.

There are only three actions available to you.

  1. Discuss your assessment request with your local assessor.
  2. Apply for a tax abatement at your local assessor’s office.
  3. Once denied, appeal to the appellate tax board.

Assessors will not accept a Broker’s Price Opinion or a Zestimate.  This is due to the fact that BPOs are not considered accurate enough for federally secured mortgages (FNMA) and Zillow publishes its own comparison of actual sales prices vs. their Zestimates which reveals an alarming rate of inaccuracy.

Most successful appeals require an appraisal done by a licensed real estate appraiser, who will provide an expert opinion of the fair market value. (MA law provides that the fair market value of property is the price on which a willing seller would sell the property to a willing buyer in an arm’s-length sale if neither party was under compulsion and each was aware of all relevant facts.  See Boston Gas Co. v. Assessors of Boston, 334 Mass. 549 (1956).)

State and Federal laws require that the appraiser and the appraisal process must be independent from any influence, coercion or pressure. This ensures that the appraiser remains a truly independent third party.  The appraisal should include a well-supported, professional report that is defensible in court.  Therefore selecting a qualified appraiser who, if needed, can also give clear testimony can be extremely important.

Did you know that in an assessment the properties must be valued as of the January 1st that preceded the fiscal year at issue?  For example, for fiscal year 2014, which runs from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, the valuation date is January 1, 2013. Therefore, it is critically important that you hire an appraiser experienced in Retrospective appraisals. That is because the effective date of value of your appraisal must match the effective date used at the time of your assessment.   It is not uncommon for an appraiser to use the “current date”.  The dates must match or the appraisal you paid for will not be usable.

Our approach:  When you hire us for an assessment appeal, you’re commissioning us as an independent, third-party to perform a professional appraisal report. As such, we do our own evaluation from beginning to end. If you’re correct that your property has been overvalued our independent report will be more persuasive than any other evidence you can provide on your own. But once again it does depend on our ability to do the work independently.

Appraisers are prohibited by the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) from accepting an appraisal assignment  subject to hitting a desired value. Nor are we allowed to take any research or other shortcuts.  We are also bound by the ethical provisions within USPAP which guarantees our customers the highest level of confidentiality and discretion. In addition, we provide you with comprehensive appraisal reports that meet or exceed requirements of the IRS, courts and other various agencies.

Working with Aladdin Appraisal rest assured that you will get the best in professional service and courtesy, while also receiving the highest quality appraisal reports. Our team of exceptional appraisers will be discreet and respect and protect your family’s privacy.   And if necessary Aladdin Appraisal stands behinds its appraisals and value estimates should matters advance to the need for testimony.

Adam Wiener Aladdin AppraisalsOur Senior Staff Appraiser, Adam Wiener, CRA will complete or personally review your appraisal. Our extensive experience includes dealing with local and prestigious law firms in the Greater Boston area. We welcome your telephone inquiries and invite your questions about our process.

Tags:  property tax, how to win a property tax appeal, real estate tax appeal,

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